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Billy Baldwin: The Great American Decorator Hardcover – October 26, 2010

4.1 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Adam Lewis's new book, 'Billy Baldwin: The Great American Decorator' (Rizzoli), surveys the life and career of the man whose pared-down versions of the slipper chair and brass bookshelves became famous, and whose work continues to influence designers long after his death in 1983... The book, which has an affectionate foreword by Albert Hadley, Baldwin's former student, is a welcome addition to the two (out-of-print and increasingly expensive) volumes on the decorator's work..." ~New York Times, T Magazine Blog

About the Author

Adam Lewis is the author of Van Day Truex, Albert Hadley, and The Great Lady Decorators.
Albert Hadley
is one of the most important American interior designers of the twentieth century.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Rizzoli; First Edition edition (October 26, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0847833674
  • ISBN-13: 978-0847833672
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 1.2 x 12.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #474,100 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By K. Ray on December 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover
A treat is in store if you don't know Baldwin.
As other reviewers have said, almost all the photographs in this volume are in Baldwin's books or other publications. (Some are iconic.) If you have most of these, this volume, despite its informative text, will seem a rehash.
Despite being a big fan, I looked at this in a store and decided not to buy.
If you are new to the work of Baldwin- or have a friend who is- this is the book to get.
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Come on Adam, did you really think we wouldn't recognize the majority of these photographs? Most likely anyone who will buy this book already own's Baldwin's originals that contain these photographs. While not a total disaster, there are some very nice portions, especally the sad, touching end of his life which I did not know about. And the lectures are sort of interesting. Nice cover, good effort, but why bother.
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Format: Hardcover
I have just finished reading Adam Lewis' newest book on Billy Baldwin and what I find so marvelous about the book is that while I knew many of the pictures, knew the decorator, I now feel as if I know the person of Billy Baldwin. The lectures that Lewis found and included are terrific in terms of getting into the mind of one of the great decorators of the 20th century. There is also much in here that tempers some of Baldwin's observations in his autobiography, which I found to be a bit over-the-top; Adam Lewis's research seems to have uncovered more of the real stories. If you love the great American decorators and their stories this is a must-have book.
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In 'Billy Baldwin: The Great American Decorator', decorator/scholar Adam Lewis and long-time Baldwin student,friend and business partner Albert Hadley use words and photos to create both a biography of Baldwin and an appreciation of his work. The book also includes Baldwin in his own words in a section containing transcripts of guest lectures on theoretical and practical aspects of running a design studio that he gave at the Parsons School of Design at the end of his fabled career. The book would have been larger but for the fact that many projects were not photographed and that Baldwin's papers, never in good order, were dispersed and disposed of between his death and the researching of this book.

There are a generous amount of color plates of Balwin's interiors as photographed at the time by Horst van Horst, Howard Graff, William Grigsby and other top-line photographers of the day. Since a love of vibrant color was a key element of Baldwin's design aesthetic, it is especially important to see his work in color, wherever possible. The inclusion of some of Baldwin's design sketches and studies in watercolor add to the story. Black and white images of some of his interiors show Baldwin's interest in line and structure to good effect.

For some readers, a great deal of the interest to be found in books like this involves the chance to see into the homes and tastes of the 'rich and famous.' Baldwin's clients included plenty of Fortune 500 names like CBS' Bill and Babe Paley and the social and financial elite of the New York City of his day, like Cole Porter. Lewis and Hadley use biographical information to highlight the importance of social networking and mentorship in pursuit of a successful decorating career.
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Almost all of the photographs have been published in Billy Baldwin's own books. The interiors are all very well known and have been published elsewhere as well. There is a bit of biographical material.
A waste of money.
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Adam Lewis has done it again (how does he come out with two volumes in the same year?) with Billy Baldwin. While many of the images are already available in now out-of-print volumes with Baldwin's name, the pictures in this book are obviously the product of high-tech (and time-consuming) digital restoration, and there is no question that printing technology has advanced immeasurably since since those books came out. It is amazing how contemporary these pictures appear, even after so many years.

More importantly, Lewis puts together a complete story of the influences, work, and sequence of what made Baldwin's work so important in American design history. Most design books (even many others published by Rizzoli) have less-than-satisfactory texts. Including Baldwin's original lectures at the Cooper-Hewitt alone make the addition of this book worth the expense. Lewis tells the Baldwin story in a way only a biographer (and not a ghost-writer for the subject) can tell.

I had the special opportunity to hear Lewis lecture on Billy Baldwin at the SF Antiques Show only a few days ago--he is an inspiring speaker and really has a unique point of view on this important American designer. He really has restored our collective memory with this biography, as he did with Van Day Truex years ago.
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A great book about the famous decorator. Obviously, the author put a lot of heart and soul into this book. I also have the Billy Baldwin Decorates so this newer book is a lovely addition. After buying this book for myself, I liked it so much, I bought two others for gifts.
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